Wednesday, September 23, 2015

September Secret Agent #14

Title: Paper Dragon
Genre: YA Fantasy

I knew I would find her on the wall. She often talked the soldiers into looking the other way, and I snuck up after her. She leaned there, bare-footed and loose-haired, her zhiju fluttering around her.

I pulled my coat more snuggly around me and joined her, standing straight-backed as I shared the view. A wide expanse of rocks and shrubs stretched, made into tangled shadows in the moonlight and, far away, the looming void of the mountains.

‘Enemy territory,’ I said, mother’s oft-repeated words. But it only looked like home to me.

‘Dirt and rocks.’ She said the words like a curse. ‘And always the same ones. The world is meant to be bigger than this. You and I, we’re meant for bigger things.’

I looked out at the only world I had ever known, listening to the night-sounds and torch-roar. ‘I don’t think I want to be,’ I said.

~a year before

‘This would be a lot easier if you could fly.’

Zheng Ling shot her brother a look. They were both ankle deep in dirt; Ling was the worst off, as it was up to her to push their cart. The wheels kicked up so much dust that she could feel it settling on her face. ‘A lot of things would be easier if we could fly,’ Ling said carefully. ‘But we can’t fly, because we are normal, everyday charm sellers and normal, everyday charm sellers do not fly.’


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  2. I love the hint at an Asian vibe fantasy world.

    And I hate to be that person, but I will. You do not need this prologue. It gave me nothing, and took up words from a potentially beautiful introduction which I am already raging at not being able to see more of.

    Seriously. Please consider with deep thought and meditation Do you need the prologue?

    Also think you meant the word ARE normal, not AND normal.

  3. I agree about the prologue. It's nicely written. It creates a nice mood. But it doesn't give us anything. Two people (and we don't know who they are.) are looking at the landscape. The mystery of who they are and what they're talking about isn't a big enough draw to warrant keeping it.

    And what follows is interesting in itself, because it seems these two kids really can fly. I'd be more interested in learning more about them, than who is looking at what, and why, in the prologue.

  4. I'm going to third this. I didn't get anything from the prologue. Can you weave it in later in the book? It's interesting, but I didn't feel any connection to it. The brother and sister are interesting already and we only see a paragraph of them.

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  6. Dittoing K.A. ... LOVE the Asian vibe to the fantasy. I adore books like this. And while I'm intrigued by everything I read here, I don't feel grounded in the world or characters yet. I presume it is Zheng Ling and her mother in the prologue? I'm really curious WHY Zheng Ling doesn't want to be meant for more. What has her mother so dissatisfied with their current life? What is Zheng Ling afraid to leave behind ... or to take on?

    From the conversation with her brother ... I presume some people in this story do fly, and they are special types. Is this what her mother was so upset about in the prologue? Could she once fly, and does she have to hide that now, or was that power taken away?

    These are too many questions for any opening, I know. I suppose either the prologue needs to be a little less mysterious, or perhaps we should dive right into the story.

    But either way, remember I am intrigued and I would definitely read more to answer some of my own questions!

  7. Sometimes I feel like I’m one of the few people in the world who do like prologues. However, in this case, you’re not doing yourself any favors by having one in this case. Only have a prologue if it’s absolutely necessary to the story and you lose everything by cutting it. From what I see here, especially as short as it is, you don’t lose anything by cutting it.

    I like the, now, new opening line about it being easier if they could fly. However the follow-up response is confusing to me. I don’t have age markers for Zheng (why she’s pushing the cart and not him) and the last line of dialogue feels run-on and took me several read-throughs to catch your meaning here. I do, though, love the Asian vibe to this!